PARENTS AWAIT CHILDREN'S FATE

Date: 1992-12-11
Source: newsbank.com

PARENTS AWAIT CHILDREN'S FATE

COURT REFEREE SAYS 4 DEATHS 'MAY MEAN THE JOB IS TOO BIG FOR THEM'

December 11, 1992
Janice Haidet
Dayton Daily News
       
Kathleen Carroll says her heart is "broken in a million pieces."

But officials say they need to set emotions aside and do what's best for her children. Both sides are awaiting a child-custody ruling from Greene County Juvenile Court Referee Robert Hutcheson.

He heard testimony in a hearing Thursday, a day after the fourth Carroll child died in a three-month span. He'll decide whether to let the Carrolls keep their five remaining children.

The recurring deaths "might not mean that Mr. and Mrs. Carroll aren't doing a good job. It may mean that the job is too big for them," Hutcheson said.

Hutcheson didn't say when he expected to make his decision, but in the meantime, the five remaining children of Kathleen and Timothy Carroll, adoptive parents of 10 children, are going to be staying in foster homes.

Under an emergency custody order, the five children were removed from their Cedarville home Wednesday, several hours after the oldest child, James, 16, called 911 and said, "I think my sister's dead."

Thursday, in the first of what could be a long series of custody hearings, the county Children Services Board sought a stronger court order.

Greene County Prosecutor William F. Schenck, who is working on the agency's behalf, said, "No one is saying that these are bad people. . . . Would these children benefit with more care, more supervision, in a different situation? We don't have the answer, but I think we'd better get the answer because we keep getting these deaths.

"The situation is very emotional, but it all comes down to this: What's in the best interests of those children? I say let's protect the children. Let's be safe," he said.

But Mrs. Carroll pointed out that since the remaining children were removed from the home, Samuel, 4, has refused to eat, and Josiah, 11, suffered an asthmatic attack that she said might have been caused by his being emotionally upset about removal from his home.

Josiah is in a foster home with Isaiah, 10, who suffers motor impairment similar to Josiah's; and Samuel, a child with Down syndrome, is in a second foster home with two children without disabilities, Hosea, 9, and James.

"My children are loved and well-taken-care-of," Mrs. Carroll said. "Taking them away was not in the best interests of my children."

Luann Geel, a supervisor with Children Services, said she and others have been concerned about the Carroll children's well-being since the death of Hannah, 6, on Sept. 21. That concern heightened with the death of Mollie, 3, on Wednesday, which led to the agency's renewed request for custody.

The deaths of Hannah and Mollie could be considered "questionable," Geel said, because three days elapsed before Hannah got medical care, and apparently, a number of hours - possibly 12 hours - elapsed before Mollie's death was discovered.

The Carrolls have refused to answer questions surrounding the children's deaths, adding to caseworkers' concerns, Geel said.

Mrs. Carroll's lawyer, John Rion of Dayton, said the Carrolls' reluctance to answer those questions stems from their desire not to hurt their defense against involuntary manslaughter charges they face in Hannah's death.

They're accused of failing to get medical treatment for severe burns to her lungs and skin.

Schenck said no criminal conduct has been suspected in the case of Chloe, an infant who died Oct. 19 in the care of a Columbus adoption agency, nor in the case of Noah, a crack baby who died Nov. 15. Schenck said he believes Mollie died of natural causes, but he is alarmed at the length of time she appeared to have been left unattended.

Besides having concerns about the deaths, Geel said her agency also is concerned about possible inadequate supervision and care for the youngsters' multiple handicaps as well as the tremendous amount of responsibility James seems to have been given in helping with that care.

In general, caseworkers are concerned because "We just don't know what's going on in that home."

The family's pediatrician since January, Dr. Craig Horn of Kettering, testified, "It is my opinion that the best place for these children is in the Carroll household."

He also said he didn't think the Carrolls contributed in any way to Mollie's death.

However, under Schenck's questioning, Horn admitted that although he does make house calls, he has never visited the Carroll home. Horn also said he never had treated a child with Cri du Chat syndrome, a genetic disorder that affected Mollie, and didn't know whether such a child should be left unattended for long periods.

Coroner's chief investigator William McCarthy said family members told him Mollie was last seen alive when she was put to bed about 10:30 p.m. Tuesday.

It wasn't unusual for the girl to sleep for more than 12 hours, they told McCarthy, so that's why no one checked on her until 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, when she was found dead.

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